Founded as the Mid Fairfield County Youth Museum in 1958, Earthplace has grown and expanded into a 62 acre open space complex that includes hiking trails, a 120 seat amphitheater, indoor and outdoor animal exhibits, playground, and classrooms. Located in the lower Fairfield County town of Westport, Earthplace is the perfect spot for the toddler, preschool, and elementary crews with plenty of hands-on learning.
Check here for admission hours and here for special programs, like weekly story time and Winged Wonders. The grounds are open for hiking from dawn until dusk, but indoor buildings have stricter hours.
Earthplace is FREE to visit but donations are encouraged.
Wear sturdy, closed toe shoes and be prepared to carry the toddler crew on the trails- very uneven paths and tons of tree roots that criss cross the well marked paths (aka the stroller probably won’t work)
Make sure to apply sunscreen (although a majority of the hiking trails are shaded by trees) and bug spray.
There is a decent amount of parking available in front of the main building. The complex is located at the end of a residential street.
There is a small gift shop located near the lobby. Restrooms are located on both floors of the main building (close to Animal Hall on the main level).
Plan on an hour to explore some of the hiking trails and playground, and another hour for indoor exhibits and the Birds of Prey outdoor exhibit.
10 Things to Do at Earthplace:
1. Go for a (short) hike. There are ten hikes throughout the complex, all under a mile. Grab a trail map and scavenger hunt from the lobby. The trails are well marked and some include picnic areas, benches, stonewalls, and fields.
2. Keep an eye for frogs and turtles at Frog Hollow Pond. There are picnic tables and benches to rest wary feet at the Pond and Raccoon Swamp. Look out for watersheds after heavy storms.
3. Learn about the local trees, plants, and insects that call Earthplace home. There are kiosks dotting the trails that give more details like “Cool Facts” and “For Inquisitive Minds”, which have challenges for kids to complete.
4. “Read” a story while following a path. Each summer, the Westport Library sponsors a Story Walk with an entire story narrated on signs along a short path.
5. Climb through the tunnels and playground.
6. Visit the rehabilitated birds in the Connecticut Birds of Prey outdoor exhibit. Some of the animals, including bald eagles, crows, vultures, and owls have lived at Earthplace since 1997! Note: Keep little hands away from the wired fence and do not feed any animals!
7. Get up close to many adorable animals like bunnies, guinea pigs, possums, and ferrets at the indoor Animal Hall. Our children especially loved the ferrets who amused us by swinging in hammocks, and running up and down the “stairs”.
8. Check out the wildlife dioramas in the Environmental Learning Center exhibit that display various ecosystems in Connecticut by season. Rotating exhibits include specimens from the Earthplace collection. Note: Due to state restrictions, this exhibit is closed for summer 2020.
9. Choose a favorite tile in the Connecticut Wall of Nature, a 3D display of tiles displaying mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and plants native to Connecticut. Note: Due to state restrictions, this exhibit is closed for summer 2020.
10. Check out a drop in activity like story time and animal feedings. Activities are usually held on weekdays late morning and early afternoon.
For nearby fun, check out our post on the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. our top 30 list of things to do, our list of 32 places to eat, and check out our CT food trails: cupcakes, chocolate shops, cookies, hot dogs, crepes, tacos, and bakeries. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.